Something beautiful happened in my family this past month: we had a new addition! Join me in welcoming my brand new baby granddaughter, Ava Grace. I am so delighted that she has come into the world…she’s my first grandchild. Some may think I’m an old codger and could’ve had seas of grandchildren by now but even though I have 3 children, this is my first, at 66. I fathered my first child at 35 and Lisa just turned 31, but it was my youngest boy who bestowed me my precious gift of Ava.
I’m not too good with technology and any photo of her I’ve taken has been rubbish but she is hands down the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen (sorry kids)! I couldn’t wait to be a grandfather after it had been 10 years since the youngest flew the coop and since I found out, I went a bit all out finding little clothes and knick knacks with my wife. I think I was more excited than her! I wanted the best for my son and his partner. They have a bit of a tough time as he recently lost his job at the council and she is a student.
I’ve also had a lot of advice thrown at me from my mates and my family friends. They keep saying, “don’t smother them”, “don’t forget to teach manners”, “don’t expect them to visit all the time” etc etc, but one of the best pieces of advice I heard wasn’t really even advice, it was just a nice sentiment: as a grandparent, you have the freedom to appreciate your grandchild without the developmental stuff, you get the best bits of them and they get the best bits of you. That made me feel really vital, because I did go through a stage of thinking about my real role as a new grandparent. My grandparents died long before I was born (on both sides) so I had no idea what their purpose was – extra money maybe? An on-call babysitter? A 24/7 laundry service? In discussions with this bright friend of mine, she told me that I need to be affirming, not just loving. I need to make Ava (and consequent bubs) feel special and important. I also need to be available for her whether it’s in person or on the phone (when she can talk!). And most importantly, be in the background and not too pushy. Don’t be that grumpy grandpa!
I have a mate who was upset when he had three granddaughters – he was looking forward to showing a boy how to fix things in the she, how to use a toolbox, and how to be a man, like he had done with his own sons. But what he learnt was more important: he learnt how to be gentle. He learnt what makes girls, girls. He learnt little fiddly things and stopped thinking he was a foundation of knowledge and started to learn from them. They began showing him how to use technology and all sorts of things. And that really sums up what is so great about grandparenting, doesn’t it? That your little descendants are full of knowledge and just because you’re older doesn’t mean you’re wiser! Being a new grandparent is just as much about baby steps as it is for babies! Take your time: it’s all wonderful in the end.
What is your advice for a new grandparent? What do you remember about being a grandparent for the first time? Share your wisdom below!